Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Traditional Food in Chinatown Complex. Red Fermented Bean Curd Pork Trotter 南乳燜豬手

Chinatown-Complex-Red-Fermented-Bean-Curd-Pork-Trotter-南乳燜豬手

Nam Yu Mun Chee Sao 南乳燜豬手 or pork trotter stewed with red fermented bean curd - this is serious nostalgic Cantonese comfort food 😄 The only person I know who knows how to make this was my late grandmother. The only place I know that sells this dish is Fragrant Sauce Chicken & Noodles, stall #02-085 in Singapore's Chinatown Complex.

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Stall holder Randy Tse hailed from Hong Kong where he was a HK roasts chef. After arriving in Singapore in 1996, he started a popular stall near Waterloo Street where he served his HK roasts, HK soya sauce chicken and poached chicken. In 2013, Andy moved to Chinatown Complex selling the same things he was most familiar with, hence he kept his stall name Fragrant Sauce Chicken & Noodles.

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Randy soon realised that Chinatown Complex was saturated with Cantonese roasts, soya sauce chicken & poached chicken stalls as Kreta Ayer is a Cantonese enclave. He needed to differentiate himself from the other stalls to build his clientele. He came upon the idea of Nam Yu Mun Chee Sao as it is a familiar Cantonese comfort dish and no one was serving it at that time (and, even now).

Soon, Fragrant Sauce Chicken became the go to place in Chinatown for pork trotters stewed in red fermented bean curd. It's a comforting home style dish, so Randy's clientele for this is rather niche but every day you will see regulars enjoying NYMCS at Randy's stall.

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Nam Yu 南乳 is bean curd mixed with red yeast rice and glutinous rice, and allowed to ferment. It has a unique robust savoury flavour and pungent aroma which is an acquired taste. The red fermented bean curd is used to flavour many old school Cantonese dishes.

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I started with a plate of Nam Yu Chee Sao with egg noodles.

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The pork trotter came served with bone, and tender, juicy meat, fat and skin. The meat, fat and skin were infused with the savoury flavour of nam yu. When we sank our teeth in, breaking the meat, fat and skin, mild savoury flavour was released together with the natural sweetness of pork. I like it, partly also because the taste of nam yu was a part of my family's diet when I was a child. Randy's version was milder, gentler than my grandma's.

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The generic egg noodles were done to a light spring and doused with nam yu sauce. It has a slight alkaline taste which to me interfered with the mild savoury flavour of the nam yu infused pork trotter.

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Determined to find a preferred way to enjoy my comfort dish, I requested a second serving with plain white rice. Randy thought that I was taking this away and he was a little surprised that I was going eat it right there at the food centre.

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The same tender juicy savoury sweet meat, fat and skin. I enjoyed it a lot more with just plain white rice as the latter added another sweet layer to the savoury sweet pork trotter. I surprised myself by finishing up the whole plate of rice with all the Nam Yu Chee Sao 😃

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The Nam Yu Chee Sao set comes with a small bowl of clear soup. It is pork bone soup mixed with a bit of chicken soup. Love it as it reminded me of the soup that I had in my 1960s primary school tuck shop. The tuck shop auntie will give refills of soup as she was too kind to turn away requests for more soup from children.

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Second serving also whack until only bones left.

👉 Nam Yu Mun Chee Sao (Red Fermented Bean Curd Pork Trotter) is not a dish for everyone - it's overloaded with fat and cholesterol. The flavour of red fermented bean curd is also an acquired taste. But, if you are emotionally attached to this Cantonese dish like I am or you are simply adventurous, Fragrant Sauce Chicken & Noodles in Chinatown Complex is a good place to savour the taste of nostalgia.

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Restaurant nameFragrant Sauce Chicken & Noodles
Address: Blk 335, Smith Street #02-085, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335 (Green Zone)      
GPS: 1°16'57.7"N 103°50'34.4"E | 1.282705, 103.842889
Waze: Chinatown Complex   
Hours: 7:00am to 3:00pm (Mon & Thurs off)  

Date visited: 4 Apr 2018 

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